A lot of people like to dismiss 1.8 because of it's adventure additions somehow taking away from the creative aspect of the game, personally I'm excited. In the meantime waiting for 1.8 I'm working on my own little adventure, I have three mods loaded up, Millenaire, Anther, and Surviorism. My goal is to defeat the Gold dungeon on Anther without dying once in the game, my own little RPG.
And I have to say there is a great feel playing the game like this, each decision I make is part of a series of choices that will get me to my end goal, while still working in the framework of the original MC concept. My first house was built on a small sand island, safe from mobs. The first real cave system that I found had a very exposed opening that I sealed up with my second house. The next thing I found was a double dungeon one of which had a skeleton spawner (I could have only dreamed of a double skeleton dungeon). In order to set up my mob grinder, I went looking for cactus (naturally I ended up just making a drowning trap) but in the process of looking for cactus, I discovered a village. I set up a little house there near the village so that I could have a home in which to trade with the Normans.
The next thing that I did was do some exploring to check out some of the amazing land formations that my seed generated, lots of high vertical mountains with large overhangs. In the process of checking those formations out, I came across a small Indian village. I set up a house near the Indian village, but then headed back to my main area. Tired of making the long run from the cave opening to the skeleton spawner I decided to dig up and make a new entrance so that I could access it more quickly and in safety. So I set up yet another little hut on the surface that leads down to the skeletons. After securing the skeletons it was then time to get back to work on my main quest, and for that, I needed diamonds.
Into the depths I returned looking for the passageway that was going to take me deep enough to find those diamonds. When exploring caves there are two things that I really hate finding, large vertical openings which generally mean Creepers raining death on me, and large rooms with several ways to go in them with sharp 90 degree angles that you can't see around. This time it was the large room with lots of openings. Initially it wasn't a big deal, a couple zombies, I cleared them out and then started to light the room up. Oh and I hate piles of gravel! Anyway I'm making my way dropping a torch here and there and then checking behind me to see if I was still safe. And lo and behold there is a Creeper within steps of me. Panicked I switch to my sword as I struggle with my controls trying to get clear and into a better position to take him out. I whack him once with my sword then having bought a split second I switch to the bow and start firing wildly at him. In the end I got him, but not after sending my heart into full racing mode, I had to pause the game for a second I was so worked up. Mind you I had full health and full armor, so I probably could have survived a blast, but the game just gets me worked up.
After the Creeper episode, there it was, exposed diamonds one level below me. I was able to clear out the surrounding area without too much trouble, dug up my 5 diamonds and then made my way back to the surface. Once reaching the surface I crafted myself a diamond pick axe and a diamond sword, Act 1 of the adventure was over, getting outfitted with diamonds and the ability to get to the Nether. So I went and dug up some obsidian and placed a portal near my first house.
When I stepped through the portal I was welcomed with a fantastic view of the lava ocean, which my portal was placed directly on a cliff overlooking. It was a very very very dangerous position where if I had taken one step forward I would have been high diving my way to my death. I went about placing cobblestone around the portal, but as nothing is ever easy a flying octopus decided to come welcome me to the Nether. Firing away with fireballs he put out my portal (I always keep a light on me so I was fine). Eventually I got my little house set up, safe from Ghasts and safe from high diving my self into the lava. My final activity was to secure the portal from the normal world so that I wouldn't re-enter to a Creeper. I headed over to the Norman village and dug up some rocks from the exposed rock nearby, then did a little trading with them before heading back. In the end I finished protecting my portal and now I'm ready to start a quick Act 2 of acquiring glowstone so that I can make a Anther portal.
My point to all of this rambling, with a goal, the game plays like an RPG, and I love it. It's a sandbox, but I can win it, with no one telling me how to do it. The random world presents me with opportunities and challenges that I have to figure out how to solve. There are side quests, do I want to go spend time in the villages? Do I want to explore? Do I want to craft a giant castle? But in the end I know what I want to do, and everything that I do is working towards that goal. If die, then it's back to the beginning and the adventure expands and continues, but is a different adventure at the same time.